What Marketing Does
Rather than pass on my own subjective definition of what marketing is, I think it's more valuable to help you grasp what marketing does. In boiling marketing down to its very essence, you might find it helpful if it's illustrated as going A.P.E. since marketing is all about Awareness, Positioning and Existence. Let's monkey around a bit with marketing and take a closer look in this confusing cage:
Awareness: Unlike selling, marketing is about creating awareness of your firm and explaining its role in the marketplace, and doing both in a manner that reaches out to those segments of the market where you bring the most value. Sometimes you can best do this in an indirect manner by becoming active as a high-profile member in that segment and creating appeal for the organization as a progressive, involved and caring market leader. If "you" are the entire organization, then "you" become the brand. Get ready for your big close-up!
Positioning: Your business needs a theme or marketing position that places you at the top of your field (not just in a sales volume sense) and ahead of the pack. Possibly, you have a particular element of your company's history that can become one of your position platforms. When done well, positioning efforts can have extraordinary results. A smaller second-generation plastics supplier in the Northeast found "integrity" to be her most effective and resonating statement to the marketplace. After weeks of searching for just the right words, her "a-ha!" moment finally came. She immediately trademarked the phrase "Where Integrity Endures," and has since found that statement to have an emotional value and customer stickiness that went far beyond regular commerce.
Existence: Why are you here? It's not just a metaphysical question that man has been pondering for ages; it's also the ultimate business question, which, if you can't convincingly answer for yourself, the market will answer for you. For those who can't properly justify their existence, the market's view of you will rapidly sink until the consensus is that you are merely taking up space. Next!
Differentiation: A Marketing Cornerstone
It may seem a bit dramatic, but the marketer's rallying cry of "Differentiate or Die" is really right on the mark in the 21st century. We live in an era of killer competition. (I'm sure you've noticed that your competition isn't just taking up space–-they are quite good at what they do!) If your company doesn't become powerfully great when it comes to explaining your purpose within the marketplace and downright moving when describing just how essential and special your essential and special functions really are, then you are, quite literally, a goner. Be prepared to enthusiastically defend the link you, and only you, provide in the value chain.
Most importantly, know in what meaningful way you are different from the rest. Are you faster, better, cheaper, cooler, more flexible or employing better technology? Are you a whiz-bang designer with an engineering background, a market leader, a visionary, a teacher, a great corporate citizen, an efficiency expert, a philosopher, a pin-point prognosticator or a planet-friendly organization? Find your uncommon place in the world, find your uncommon voice as a business leader, and then use them! Teach everyone you possibly can, through the marketing and branding process, why the differences (not the similarities) in your business offering are compelling enough for ready-to-spend and highly targeted customers to flock to your shop, store or site.
Stand out! Use this knowledge to help build your own definition of contemporary marketing. Design and implement the most effective set of interwoven marketing initiatives possible and put them in play. Get chosen in 2007!
About the author:
Chris Traynor, SPHR, is the Director for Whip-Smart™ Management Consulting, Wayne, N.J., and has 25 years of experience in the solid surface industry as a consultant to fabricators, distributors and manufacturers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.